By: Alex Hale
It is an understatement to say that most people are sick of politics right now. The two major political candidates for the presidency have the highest unfavorable ratings in the history of modern polling, and most students who didn’t support either candidate in the primaries are left feeling ripped off in the first election they are eligible to vote.
However, as negative as everything seems in that realm, there are still good things going on in the world of public policy and social justice of which every single Xavier student can be a part.
All it takes is to acknowledge that it is on us all to stop sexual assault and work to intervene in risky situations where it could potentially occur.
At the beginning of this past summer, I began working for Cincinnati City Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld, who founded the task force “It’s On Us – Cincinnati.” Believe it or not, when I was working with the councilmember, our office received a call from a mother of a young man who plans to start college this year.
The mother was concerned and decided against sending her son to school in Cincinnati because of this task force. She claimed that many young women are falsely reporting incidents and that she was worried that her son would be falsely accused of sexual assault.
I told this story to Kate Lawson, the Title IX coordinator here at Xavier.
“I would underscore that it is very rare to have an actual false allegation, particularly because of what survivors go through in reporting. It would be pretty out there to go through a six-hour invasive medical exam in order to support a false claim. A good Title IX investigation would conclude that it is a false claim,” Lawson said in response to dealing with allegations.
False claims do happen, but they are rare. We must not focus on these rare incidents because focusing on them primarily encourages victim blaming and therefore prevents some actual victims from coming forward and reporting their assaults.
Although this issue more often affects women, men can be sexually assaulted as well. One in four women are victims of sexual assault while in college as well as one in 16 men.
“We don’t even know how much male-on-male violence or female-on-male violence there is because of the extra stigma that prevents those cases from being reported,” Lawson said.
She also noted that transgender students have a much higher chance of being attacked with one in two transgender people experiencing sexual assault. This goes to show how this isn’t just a women’s issue. It affects everyone, which is why all students are covered and protected by the Title IX office.
Even with taking all of the proper precautions and looking out for friends, some people will still experience sexual assault at Xavier. To those who have, it is important to report your assault. An increase in reporting can result in the true brevity of this situation being understood by university officials.
There are multiple ways to go about reporting. The best place to start is http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/itson- us-cincinnati. This provides information for on and off campus resources. Women Helping Women, an organization entirely devoted to preventing sexual assault and helping victims of sexual assault, also provides a 24/7 hotline for support services. There is an on-campus support group through McGrath Health and Wellness Center for victims as well as the Xavier Students Against Sexual Assault (XSASA) club, whose entire goal and purpose is to fight this epidemic.
I encourage all Xavier students to take the pledge to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and to create an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.